A man convicted of killing his 2-and-a-half-year-old stepson has been released from Hawke's Bay Regional Prison after serving two and a half years of a seven-and-a-half-year sentence.

In February 2017, Tamehana Huata, now 21, was convicted of manslaughter and injuring his stepson Matiu Wereta, known as MJ, in October 2015.

He was released in September.

A report, released by the Parole Board, found that Huata had done "very well in prison generally," and has "excellent support in the community".


The board released him on strict conditions, based on the work and rehabilitation Huata had done in prison.

This work had included accepting full responsibility for his offending while undertaking the Mauri Tū Pae, and completing a drug treatment programme.

Matiu Wereta died in Hawke's Bay Hospital on October 14, 2015, age 2. Photo / Supplied
Matiu Wereta died in Hawke's Bay Hospital on October 14, 2015, age 2. Photo / Supplied

In its report, the board said taking responsibility for his actions played a major part in the decision.

"He spoke with remorse about what did happen and he said that he remembers his young stepson every day and has his photo in his room and prays to him at night."

They also took into account the support he has of the community, including the possibility for work and time spent talking through the offending with his partner, MJ's mother, with whom he shares a child.

As part of his parole conditions, Huata is not allowed to have contact with a child under 16 unless with prior approval of probation officers, and under the supervision of an adult approved by probation officers.

Currently, the parole board has set his probation to last until 2024, his statutory release date, to be reviewed in February 2020.

MJ died in Hawke's Bay hospital from head injuries,


During the trial, the crown argued that Huata had been a good stepfather, but lost his temper and lashed out at Matiu, the then 17-year-old finding himself out of his depth looking after the child.

The defence argued the energetic MJ had tripped on a towel after a shower and fallen down the stairs in a freakish accident.